I have 2 exciting pieces of news everyone! The first is that I switched my blog from wordpress.com to a self-hosted domain (Bluehost). So now, the URL doesn’t have “.wordpress.com” after it. I’m definitely no expert at computers and tech stuff but I managed to get it to work! Unfortunately, this means I lost all my WordPress followers so if you are out there, I am sorry and please re-subscribe!
The second exciting news is that I got 2 new lenses! One is a 45 mm (f1.8) lens that I love using for food photography and the other is a 40-150 mm zoom lens. I am SO excited to use both since they’ll definitely improve the quality of my photos. I actually used the 45 mm one for the pictures of the dip; I’m sure you can see the difference a lens makes already!
On Christmas day, my mom and I made our own spinach artichoke dips and chips. It was our first time making both and luckily, they both turned out amazing! The dip was creamy and rich with flavor, but had a good amount of artichokes and spinach. The chips were fresh out of the oven so they were tasty and crunchy and didn’t even need salt. Among the 4 of us, we finished it all for lunch.
SPINACH ARTICHOKE DIP AND CHIPS
Spinach Artichoke Dip:
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 cup Romano cheese, grated
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 (14 oz) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/2 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
3 large flour tortillas (corn or whole wheat tortillas also work)
Spinach Artichoke Dip:
adapted from All Recipes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a large baking dish or several small ones.
In a medium bowl, mix together cream cheese, mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese, Romano cheese, garlic, basil, garlic salt, salt and pepper. Gently stir in artichoke hearts and spinach.
Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the top with mozzarella cheese. Bake for about 25 minutes, until bubbly and lightly browned.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Lightly brush olive oil onto both sides of each tortilla.
Stack tortillas on top of each other and cut into small triangle slices.
Place triangles on a baking sheet and bake for 7-10 minutes, until lightly browned.
Take out of oven and let cool.
Orientation week has been crazy with moving in, helping freshmen move in, seeing everyone after an entire summer, and running around campus performing various errands. This year, I’m living in a 4-person suite with my 3 closest friends Margaret, Ting, and Jeana. We were soo excited to move into our awesome suite which has 4 single rooms, 2 bathrooms, a common room, and a kitchen! The kitchen is small but has a full refrigerator, 2 stoves, and our own microwave and toaster oven. Since we don’t have a conventional oven, our options for cooking and baking is a bit limited. Here is what our kitchen looks like!
For the past week, we’ve been eating out almost every meal at restaurants that we’ve missed over the summer. Today we went grocery shopping so that we could finally make a home-cooked meal. For dinner, I made chicken and spinach quesadillas, a combination I’ve never tried before. One problem though was that the only type of chicken I could find was sliced chicken prepared as cold cuts. I searched in 2 grocery stores, but nowhere was there to be found pre-made chunks of chicken! Taking a leap of faith, I used the cold cuts which actually turned out to be pretty good.
I realized that one of the hardest parts of cooking in college is getting all the ingredients. You start out with nothing and have to go shopping for so many items that it takes multiple trips to get enough ingredients. Quesadillas are on the easier side and are great for lunch and dinner considering there is little to no cutting involved and all the ingredients are pre-prepared. They are definitely a good meal for college students with limited resources or cooking ability to make. For healthier quesadillas, use whole wheat tortillas instead of flour tortillas!
Hooray for my first home-made college meal! 😀
CHICKEN AND SPINACH QUESADILLAS
1 whole wheat flour tortilla
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup spinach
2 slices of cold cut chicken (use chunks of chicken breast if possible)
Heat a frying pan to medium heat. Add 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil and spread it around with a spatula.
Place tortilla in frying pan and flip several times, with 15 seconds in between each flip. Once air pockets begin to form, flatten them with the spatula to let out the air. Sprinkle shredded cheese on one side of the tortilla.
Reduce the heat to low. Top cheese with spinach leaves. Break the cold cut chicken into small pieces and place on top of spinach.
Using the spatula, fold one side of the tortilla on top of the side with filling. Press down on the quesadilla with spatula to flatten and keep in place. Flip over the quesadilla. It should be ready when it is browned.
Cut in half and serve with guacamole (see Amazing Guacamole recipe).
When was the first time you had a quiche? I remember my first time so vividly. It was one of those afternoons where I was buried in the library, swamped with never ending homework. A friend and I ventured to the library cafe to grab something to eat. Seeing how I was unable to decide what to get, my friend suggested I try a quiche. I had never even heard of a quiche before and I was skeptical of the odd-looking “egg pie”. For some reason, I trusted him. I took a bite and marveled with wide eyes at how incredible this new food tasted!
That memory of the quiche has stuck in my mind ever since which is why I was so excited when I found a recipe for mini quiches. My family had never heard of a quiche either so I was more than happy to introduce it to them.
These mini ones tasted…unbelievable. Biting into the quiche was an experience of its own because of the spongy, juiciness of the quiche. I compared them to muffin-shaped omelettes. After all, they had similar ingredients – egg, cheese, vegetables, and bacon. However, they had a fluffier, airier texture since more egg whites were used than yolks.
My family seemed to have a positive first experience with the quiche as well. They were impressed by how flavorful they were and said they were even better than omelettes.
The best moments are those when you discover something new and wonderful, making your life just that much better. So go out, be brave, and try something new. You might end up pleasantly surprised. 😀
MINI MUSHROOM AND SPINACH QUICHE WITH BACON
6 strips turkey bacon
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 1/2 cups mushrooms, chopped
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper
2 cups baby spinach
Pinch of nutmeg
4 egg whites
1/4 cup skim milk
1/3 cup grated white cheese (I used Queso Blanco)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray or vegetable oil.
Cook the turkey bacon strips in a large skillet on medium heat. Keep turning strips until crispy. Transfer to a cutting board and chop into small bits.
Using the same skillet, heat olive oil. Add mushrooms, shallot, salt and pepper. Cook until mushrooms are dry and browned and shallots are soft (about 10 minutes.) Add baby spinach and nutmeg and stir for about a minute, until spinach is just wilted but still bright green.
Whisk eggs, egg whites, milk, salt and pepper until well blended. Stir in cheese. Pour mixture evenly into muffin tins, filling them halfway. Top with mushroom and spinach mixture. Sprinkle chopped bacon on top.
Bake 20-25 minutes, until quiches have risen and are golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes and serve warm.
adapted from Food Network